Until recently, most consumers paid little attention to how common goods and products get onto the shelves in the stores where they shop.
But since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most consumers have realized how a widespread crisis can spoil the customer-shopping experience, which is near the end of a series of linked events called the "supply chain" (SC).
The business function that keeps the supply chain's links connected is "supply chain management" (SCM). Investopedia describes supply chain management as a series of activities that includes the following processes:
- Planning and strategizing
- Procurement/sourcing of raw materials or services
- Manufacturing productivity and efficiency
- Delivery and logistics
- Return procedure/system for spoiled, defective or unwanted products
Directing the Traffic
Choreographing all these moving parts is the "supply chain manager," a business leader who "oversees and manages the overall supply chain and logistics operations to maximize efficiency and minimize the cost of an organization's supply chain," according to Salary.com. The position might also have a title such as "manager supply chain and logistics" or "supply chain and logistics manager."
This first-level managerial role, Salary.com says, "manages subordinate staff in the day-to-day performance of their jobs," and "typically reports to a senior manager," which means supply chain managers have room for advancement either inside their current organization or with another enterprise, or even in another industry.
Although the SC manager's key day-to-day concern is to make sure resources and products get to assigned destinations on schedule, another important responsibility is "to minimize shortages and keep costs down," Salary.com says. And, says Investopedia, the effects of "Improvements in productivity and efficiency go straight to the bottom line of a company and have a real and lasting impact."
To accomplish such impact, SC managers need broad expertise.
Skills and Knowledge
To have a positive operational and financial impact on supply chain operations, Investopedia says an SC manager requires skills such as:
- Project management
- Cost accounting
- E-business/E-procurement systems
- Business ethics
- Understanding of legal contracts.
And to help facilitate supply chain work across silos and cultures, Investopedia says it's important for an SC manager to have soft skills such as:
- Effective presentation
- Global awareness; and
- Multicultural understanding.
Most of the skills and knowledge required of a supply chain manager are offered in a typical MBA program, which is why managers with MBAs excel in supply chain management roles.
Consider the required core business courses offered in the online MBA in Supply Chain Management the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington:
- Business Law
- Information Analysis and Management
- Business Analytics
- Operations Management
- Corporate Finance
- Strategic Management
And graduates who earn an MBA with a supply chain management specialization will be that much better equipped for a successful, innovative career in the industry after taking elective courses such as:
- Supply Chain Analytics
- Project Management
- Quality Management and Improvement
- Procurement Strategy
Other Reasons Why MBAs May Excel in Supply Chain
While MBAs' educational preparation provides the skills and confidence for their supply chain manager roles, there are other reasons why they may excel in the profession.
Generous Pay – According to Salary.com, the annual pay of supply chain managers with an MBA ranges from $105,867 to $114,079 (February 2021). Being paid well can inspire performance.
Positive Outlook – The supply chain's higher-than-national-average pay scale may be contributing to the generally positive outlook among the industry's employees, according to a report on the results of a survey by the Association for Supply Chain Management. Working with and leading happy people can raise a manager's self-expectations.
So, anyone considering a supply chain management career should also consider earning an MBA, which helps managers excel.
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